Tag Archives: Technology

Enter the Millennials and Digital Natives

“Our technological powers increase, but the side effects and potential hazards also escalate.”

Alvin Toffler

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The rise of the ‘millennials’ and ‘digital natives’ will in the coming years produce a new and combustible working environment. The old-timers (so to speak) will have to accommodate the habits of the tech-savvy generation while the young (so to speak) will have to learn and retain some of the invaluable skills left behind by older generations. Naturally part of the problem is that people’s skills in the digital and technological domain will have to be honed and improved in the face of the momentum the world of technology is gathering.

Florence Broderick noted, “It’s fundamental that we understand that no social network, platform, app or technology will ever really help us with our soft skills.” These ‘soft skills’ in the age of a technological revolution are becoming an increasingly, if not an essential part of the workplace.

In Futureboard’s recent article two members of the technology community noted that while the pace of software and technology is moving fast technology; businesses require a mixture of individual’s and profiles, not simply introverts who love to code.

They need business leaders to manager technical projects, graphic designers to create memorable brands, business developers to sell their products and entrepreneurs to innovate and make bigger things happen. It is important to remember that not all millennials and digital natives will end up being cyber-robotic organisms, an extension of AI incapable of effective human communication staring at computers screens indefinitely.

By 2025 (10 years will disappear quickly!) millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce. This 75% will have a different view of how work should get done and come into the workforce with a different set of expectations from their employers.

However on the flip side employers from Gen X and the Baby Boomers generations (despite being the minority) will and should in many aspects expect Gen Y and Gen Z to be able to adapt to certain attitudes and behaviours in the workplace. According to Futureboard’s Student Survey conducted in 2014, these would range from strong work ethics, the ability to engage effectively in a face to face discussion when required, and be competent by email and telephone when necessary. There are disadvantages to Skype as there are to email.

Perceptions between different generations are of equal importance. There are workplace assumptions that millennials need to be prepared to challenge. According to a survey of 6,361 job seekers and veteran HR professional in 2013, 86% of HR professionals described Millennials as tech-savvy with 1% loyalty to their employers. The reality is that 82% of Millennials describe themselves as loyal to employers and 35% would describe themselves as tech-savvy. This is one example and illustrates that narrowing the gap between workplace perceptions and expectations of employers and employees is important for companies.

What will the outcome be if the integration of a broad set of different generational skills is successful in the workplace? Particular companies will thrive if they are able to absorb ‘digital natives’ and ‘technoholics’ and make the transition from a predominantly hierarchical organisation to one that is predominantly based on networking, fluidity and constant evolution and adaptability.  The ‘digital natives’ are career multitaskers, they will move between businesses and pursue careers without boundaries and the millennials will prefer working with organisations, rather than for them and generally lead flexible lifestyles with an increased importance on work-life balance.

However the emerging workforce must learn and understand the skills and motives that drove previous generations as strong work ethic, the ability to communicate to large and small audiences in person, respect, loyalty and input, regardless of the changing working hours, remain an absolute essential in any working environment. Old and new have to merge so that markets can accommodate Gen Y and Gen Z in a comfortable manner.

Matthew Williams

(P.S: Happy New Year!!! Bring on 2015!)

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International Students: Do they have anything to fear studying in the UK?

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The international student body is a crucial component part of university experience in the United Kingdom. Yet for various reasons according to BBC News education correspondent Sean Coughlan, more than half of overseas students in the UK say they have felt “less welcome”. Similarly the quantitative statistics point to a fairly gloomy outlook. According to the BBC, the number of overseas students taking up places at England’s universities decreased by 4,595 in one year – the first fall in 29 years. Yet is it sensible to measure quantitative statistics against that of individual student experiences?

Immigration policy in the United Kingdom has become a hotly contested debate, particularly in the wake of UKIP’s rise to prominence in the EU Parliament elections. Subsequently, we’ve seen a shift in Conservative and Labour stances on their own views and policies on immigration. For example the Express stated that senior Tory ministers are believed to be pushing for an “emergency brake” on immigration from Europe, which could see UK borders temporarily closed to halt a flood of migrants into the country. Similarly, Ed Miliband has promised an immigration reform bill in the first few weeks of a new Labour government as he challenged the “false promises” of UKIP and the Conservatives.

Has this politicised atmosphere concerned or put-off students from other countries applying to study and find a job in the UK? Has this fear led to the concern that the United Kingdom is under threat from ‘brain-drain’ where foreign students are dissatisfied with the potential and/or lack of opportunities return whence they came to find a job and apply their set of skills in their home country?

The first thing to assess is whether the numerous downbeat statistics are reliable or contradicted by other sources. The survey of attitudes of overseas students in the UK, commissioned by Regent’s University in London as supposed to Higher Education, shows a contrasting picture

“While students feel that migration targets have made them feel less welcome, they have a positive account of their experience in the UK. About four in five of the students backed the quality of their courses and teaching and nine in 10 would recommend studying in the UK.”

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My experience as a UK student studying at the two highly diverse institutions of Nottingham University and King’s College London certainly counters the notion that the UK does not want to ‘welcome’ international students. In one of my seminars the class comprises of American, French, Venezuelan, Kenyan, German, Swiss, and Chinese students. The course encompasses students from all over the world and the amount you enjoy and learn from different perspectives, cultures, and experiences is rewarding at a personal level and career level.

Similarly my experience at Nottingham was very enriching due to the University having campuses based in Malaysia and China. Diversity is a crucial strategy to every university in attracting talent and boosting both its credentials and financial resources. On an individual and institutional level, (international students are believed to worth as much as £3bn a year to UK universities and £10 billion a year to the UK economy) international students are a crucial, if not essential, part of university life.

This is still being emphasised by top government officials. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has called for overseas students to be excluded from immigration figures stating:

“I actually agree with Michael Heseltine … I also think the student numbers should be taken out of the net immigration figures….tough where it needs to be tough, but smart where it needs to be smart….we don’t just send them packing back home when we might actually want them to find their feet and provide input into the British economy…students are really not what people perceive as immigrants”

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Nick Clegg’s speech made in India was likely a response to the drop in the numbers of Indian and Pakistani students in the United Kingdom (18,535 in 2010-11 to 13,250 in 2011-12 and further to 10,235 in 2012/13 while these numbers in Pakistan stood at 4,580, in 2010-11 and 2,825 in 2012/13.) However, once again these statistics, though troubling from the BBC, overlook the fact that these are the only two countries which have seen a decline and should not encompass the whole international student body. The application figures for this year show rising rather than falling interest in UK universities. There have been drops from individual countries, but the overall figures from the admissions service UCAS, published last month; show that applications from overseas students are higher than last year. We also forget that we can flip the situation UK students may also have the same fears of not fitting into other cultures was , which was regarded as the greatest non-academic barrier to UK students studying overseas (the preference to study abroad dropped from 65% to 41%). Again from the numerous people (particularly language students) I have known who have gone abroad, I have rarely been given the impression of a negative experience from a range of countries be it the a year out in the United States, Canada, France or even Colombia!

Immigration is an issue and certainly statistics are important but it should not impact the value that international students still (and potentially will) bring to our economy and university experience, the latter contribution of which is nothing less than enriching.

In short I send this message to any international students considering studying here or graduates getting a job. We are here, we are waiting, come to the UK!

Matthew

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BT Emerging Technologies Event

Tomorrow, Wednesday 26th February, Futureboard are helping BT host an “Insight into technology” event followed by networking from 5 to 7 PM at the BT Centre, just opposite St Paul’s Tube Station.BT

The event is for all students keen to explore cutting edge technologies. If you’re about to take part, here are a few reminders:

  • Dress smart. Suit and tie are not compulsory, but remember to be presentable;
  • Do your research: remember what the company is already involved in;
  • Speak up: don’t be shy and ask questions. There will be many opportunities to ask and make a good impression throughout the evening, so don’t wait for the networking session!
  • Don’t be a spectator, participate!
  • Remember to be polite to everyone, no matter their role. It will be noted.

If you’d like to read more networking tips, check out this article.

Picture by: BT

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Curiosity: the key to a job in a tech firm

With companies looking to fill more and more technology roles, non-tech  grads may fear they will be thrown out of the job market. But is finding a tech job really that difficult?

Rowen Douglas, consultant at Futureboard Consulting, says curiosity – not outstanding technology skills – might give you a better chance to get a tech job. She says: “Tech firms are looking for candidates with a passion for learning.”Curious-Definition1

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